“So the first thing we need to do is sort out the issue of the last name,” Tony had said, shortly after their first child, Ástrior, was born. “Personally, I like Starkson.”
“That is wrong in many ways,” Loki replied, as he sat bottle feeding the baby. “Firstly you use the fathers first name not the last, our daughter is NOT your son, so if anything she would be Antonydottir, and that is if I would allow it. Which I would not.”
“But she technically has two fathers so it would be Antonylokidottir?” Tony said. “I really don't like that name.”
“Yes, it is unfortunate,” Loki replied and then added, “Well then, obviously her last name will have to be the same as mine.”
“And what's your last name now? I seem to remember asking Thor once and he didn't know which you were using.”
“Oh,” Loki replied, “I hadn't given that a lot of thought lately.”
Later Loki grabbed a pen and paper and made a small chart listing all the pros and cons of each name.
Already used to it.
Alliteration is always good.
Killed Laufey :-S
|Will piss off Helblindi||Will piss off Odin.|
|Don't want to piss off Helblindi.||Don't want to piss off Odin.|
):-D Hey look! It's me, in my helmet!
After doing that he decided he would be like the popular Midgard singer Cher, who he had seen cavorting on the television in very few clothes, and only have one name from now on, but all his children would have the surname Stark, for simplicities sake.
Shortly after Ástriors birth Loki mysteriously became pregnant again. They would tell everyone it was an accident, just like the last time, but in reality the birth of little Steven was very much planned. 18 months later and Maria was born, Virginia came next, and by the time Edward had been born Clint had taken to calling them the Waltons.
Tony was surprised how quickly he adapted to family life and just how much he loved it. In the past the appearance of sticky, toddler sized hand prints all over the impeccably clean windows of his house would have made him scream. Now they just made him want to take photos and post them to facebook so everyone could see how cute it was. He didn't even mind the time he was in a mid air battle with a small group of invading Skrulls and a loose Lego brick was rolling round inside his helmet, occasionally whacking him the eye. That was just cute too.
Tony wasn't stupid though, he was well aware that they were probably the last two people in the world who should be having kids without years of therapy, and in Loki’s case some hardcore anti-psychotics. He knew they both had issues deeper than the Mariana Trench, but somehow it worked, and no one could question how well they cared for their children or how much they loved them. Well, someone could, they just probably wouldn't live very long after it.
Loki devoted himself to making sure each of their children got the best upbringing possible. He was strict when he had to be, taught them impeccable manners, and above all else he made sure no one felt like they were second best, all of them were equally loved and all were appreciated for talents, no matter what they were. Tony thought Loki was doing a magnificent job as each child flourished under his care, turning out happy, polite and incredibly bright for their age.
When Ástrior was old enough she had started to attend school, but Loki decided to home school the children not long after, saying that the system was woefully inadequate to deal with the needs of his offspring, who were all clearly geniuses.
When Loki had realized that his daughter was not being taught physics or how recite the Midgard periodic table, or any of the other 26000 elements currently unknown to mortals, he had dragged Tony to the school to complain.
“I'm sorry,” the school principal had replied, “But we don't teach physics in Kindergarten.”
“That is outrageous,” Loki complained. “You should at least be teaching the fundamentals of quantum theory by the age of five.”
“It's not our policy, you'll have to take it up with the school board, but I think you'll find that they will have the same answer I've given you.”
“Then I shall join this school board and effect change from the inside. Tell me, how do I become a member?”
“But… You're a villain.”
“Reformed villain,” Tony interjected.
“Why thank you, darling,” Loki replied, flashing a sweet smile at him.
“I'm sorry, but all members of the school board have to have a clean criminal record.”
“I don't have a criminal record, the idiot Avengers never managed to capture me.”
“I think you'll find we did.”
“I was mortal,” Loki said, elbowing Tony in the ribs disapprovingly. “That doesn't count.”
“Ummm…” the principal said, desperately scanning the rules in her head, trying to come up with any way to prevent Loki attempting to get on the school board. “Are you a registered voter?”
“No. How do I become one?” Loki asked.
“Honey, you have to be a US citizen,” Tony replied. “You probably have to be human too.”
“Oh,” Loki replied, and that was that, no physics would be taught to five year olds in kindergarten.
The home schooling also had nothing at all to do with the fact that Ástrior had accidentally frozen the school hamster solid when she moved into first grade, and even less to do with the fact that Loki had been banned from school grounds after it had taken 3 men to pull him off a coach at a parent teacher conference who dared to suggest that his daughter might try harder in gym class.
Instead Loki had set up his own school in Tony's Malibu mansion, one that involved physics, trips to watch the formation of new stars first hand, and the beginnings of rudimentary magic. Tony had made Loki laugh when he asked if he was setting up his own version of Hogwarts when he started teaching Ástrior and Steven simple spells round the kitchen table, then been on the receiving end of a week long hissy fit when he suggested Loki would have been sorted into Hufflepuff.
It had been another busy day down at Avengers HQ when Tony arrived back home, his armor stripping off and sinking into the floor as he walked along, and he was surprised that he wasn't greeted by a gaggle of happy children, all desperate to hear about his latest adventures.
He was even more surprised when he walked up from the lab and was dived on by Loki, who pushed him against the nearest wall and covered him in kisses.
“Wow, someone is happy to see me,” Tony said when his mouth was released.
“I'm very happy to see you,” Loki said breathlessly, as he untucked Tony's shirt and thrust one hand underneath it.
“How are you feeling today?” Tony asked, between kisses.
“I am very much improved,” Loki said, grinding his crotch against Tony's. “Back to my old self.”
“I can tell,” Tony replied, as Loki licked a stripe up his neck, “Where are the kids?”
“They have gone to stay with Helblindi for the weekend,” Loki said. “They will be back on Sunday evening.”
“Oh, so a whole weekend to ourselves to do whatever we want?” Tony said, as he lowered his hand down and stroked Loki’s already hard cock through his pants, then he jokingly added, “There's technology show tomorrow I wouldn't mind visiting.”
Loki let out a small feral growl of disapproval, grabbed Tony's wrist and teleported them both to the bedroom.
Loki dived onto the bed, dragged Tony down with him and clicked his fingers, making their clothes vanish and reappear, neatly folded on the chair in the corner of the room. He moved his hands up Tony's back, into his hair, then pulled him into another kiss.
Tony propped himself up on one elbow and ran his hand up Loki’s inner thigh, teasing light touches everywhere but where he really wanted them, and Loki whined in annoyance.
“Stop toying with me, Stark,” he said and Tony grinned in response, moving his fingers further up, aiming to run a feathery touch over his entrance, but instead he found them sliding between wet folds.
“Oh Loki…” Tony said, pulling back. “Again?”
“Yes! Yes, yes! Fuck me, Stark!”
“Firstly, we really need to talk about your potty mouth,” Tony said, sitting up, “And secondly, I thought we agreed five kids was enough.”
“I remember no such agreement,” Loki said, “And I fail to see why we should stop. Do we lack money to provide for them?”
“Do you have a shortage of love which would not stretch to another child?”
“Of course not.”
“Well, in that case, get to it,” Loki demanded, pointing down, “And don't fake it. I will know if you do.”
“Loki, is this really a good idea? Isn't it a bit soon?”
“I almost died saving this world. I think that gives me every right to bring another life into it. So if you don't impregnate me by the end of Sunday, I will ensure the water filtration system in your suit fails, repeatedly,” Loki snapped. “I should imagine it will end up quite smelly.”
Tony stopped and thought about the magnitude of that threat, and then said, “Can we please stop at six?”
“Of course,” Loki said cheerfully, and then turned his head away and muttered, “Or maybe seven.”
Tony opened his eyes and realised Steve and Fury were staring at him disapprovingly, and Clint was sat there with a big grin on his face.
“Heavy weekend?” Fury asked.
“Sorry, sorry,” he said pushing himself upright and wiping the slight trail of drool from the corner of his mouth.
“Perhaps if you spent a little less time partying-”
“I wasn't partying,” Tony snapped, then he sighed. “Loki decided he wants another baby, and unfortunately he can't make one on his own.”
“Another?” Steve asked. “Jeeze, when's he gonna stop?”
“Well, I made the mistake of buying a house that has seven bedrooms,” Tony said, rubbing his hand over his face, “So hopefully he'll stop at six.”
“Or maybe he'll get bunk beds,” Clint added helpfully.
“Ugh my god,” Tony said, mock banging his head on the desk. “I had to spend half the night disinfecting every single surface in my house. EVERY. SINGLE. SURFACE.”
“Can't you just tell him no?”
“Have you ever tried telling Loki he can't do what he wants?”
“OK, do you remember that time, years ago, when he made all the mummies come to life in the Natural History Museum? When he basically destroyed a few hundred priceless artifacts, and almost killed you in the process?”
“Oh yeah, I had a limp for a week.”
“Yeah, he did that because he was annoyed that Thor told him he should wash his hair.”
“Ah,” Steve replied. “Point taken.”
Later that evening Tony arrived back at his house and followed the happy sounds of music and shrieking laughter up to the kitchen and found Loki holding a large piping bag in one hand that was evidently full of chocolate ganache frosting.
“Oh my word,” Tony said, “It's the god of cupcakes.”
Shrieks of “Daddy!” echoed round the kitchen and Tony found him surrounded by 3 children, desperate for his attention. He bent down and hugged them all in turn, then wandered over to where Virginia and Edward were sat in high chairs and kissed them both on the top of their heads.
“I thought baking was an important skill to learn,” Loki said with a smile, licking a smudge of chocolate sauce from his fingers.
“You've made a LOT,” Tony said, looking round the worktops that overflowed with cakes of all different colours and designs.
“Thor is coming for dinner.”
“Oh OK. Better to make too many than too few, then.”
“Indeed,” Loki replied, “I would hate to see my darling brother go hungry.”
“Daddy! Who did you beat today?” Steven asked. “Did you kill the evil villain?”
“Steven!” Loki scolded. “What did I tell you about that?”
Steven looked down, clasping his hands in front of himself and said, “Not all villains are evil, some are just misunderstood.”
“Excellent, darling,” Loki said, beaming with pride. “For that you can have an extra cupcake after dinner.”
“So, what did everyone do today?” Tony asked.
“We learned about sound and wavelengths and the Doppler effect,” Ástrior said. “Daddy took us to a warehouse fire so we could hear the engines go past.”
“Practical demonstrations, an excellent way to learn,” Tony said, and then he turned to Loki and asked, “You didn't start the fire did you?”
Loki pulled his most innocent angelic face, put his hand on his chest.
“I am wounded you would dare suggest such a thing. You know my days of villainy are behind me,” he replied, and then added, “It was abandoned, anyway, so it's not like it really mattered.”
Thor arrived promptly at 6 and they all tucked into a magnificent dinner of roasted wild boar and vegetables, followed by numerous cupcakes.
“Loki, this feast is wonderful,” Thor said, as he tucked into his 12th cake. “I do not know where you find the time to prepare such a meal.”
“I know, he really is the perfect little housewife,” Tony said, and Loki shot him a poisonous glare, then looked down and secretly smiled to himself.
“If you will excuse me, gentlemen,” Loki said, rising from his chair. “Children, it is time for bed.”
“Awwww…” They all moaned and Ástrior said, “Can't we stay up a little longer?”
“No,” Loki replied, “We have a very exciting day ahead of us tomorrow. You will need your sleep. Come along.”
They were sat in the living room when Loki came back half an hour later and curled up next to Tony on the large leather couch, tucking his bare feet neatly underneath himself.
They chatted idly about old times, laughing at stories, polishing off a bottle of scotch between them, and discussing how Tony almost hadn't joined the Avengers.
“They did not want you on the team?” Thor asked. "It seems impossible."
“Nope,” Tony replied, “Fury said, and I quote, that I'm volatile, self obsessed, and I don't play well with others.”
“Well, forgive me for finding those your most admirable qualities,” Loki replied sleepily, his head now resting on Tony's stomach, “And I think you play well enough with me.”
“That is so true,” Tony said, giving Loki’s shoulder a small squeeze.
A while later Thor noticed that Loki had fallen asleep, and he said, “Tell me, Stark, how fares my brother now? You know he will never tell me himself.”
“He has good days and bad days,” Tony said, running his hand gently through Loki’s hair. “Mostly good now. He still gets tired sometimes.”
“I am glad he is recovering,” Thor said. “This is why you would prefer to wait for another child?”
“I'm just worried it's too soon,” Tony replied. “I don't want him wearing himself out.”
It had been about 8 months since Loki saved Midgard. The papers and news channels the next day were full of the stories of the former villain who had turned his life around, and offers for exclusive interviews on chat shows had come flooding in, but Loki was in no condition to accept any of them.
The asteroid that had come hurtling towards earth, thrown off course by some cosmic event, was only discovered a few hours before it was due to hit and no one could understand how something that large hadn't shown up on NASA's scans for near earth objects.
Tony had been called into Avengers HQ to help formulate a response, leaving Loki alone with the children to come up with his own secret plan of escape.
“Daddy, what's that?” Ástrior asked as she stood by Loki’s side in the garden and looked up at the sky.
“That is an asteroid,” Loki explained. “It's an astronomical object which orbits the sun. In this case though it has been thrown off course.”
“Is it going to hit us? It looks awfully close.”
“I believe it will, yes,” Loki said taking hold of Ástrior's hand. “I think it's time for us all to leave. We will collect your father and then we shall go to Asgard. That will be nice won't it?”
“Will we be home on Saturday? I have my ballet recital then,” her lower lip started to wobble and tears welled in her eyes. “I was really looking forward to you seeing me dance.”
“Ohh….” Loki said. In all the chaos over the probable destruction of Midgard he had forgotten about the ballet recital and knew how much she was looking forward to it. He would not disappoint her. “Don't be sad, darling. Daddy will fix it for you. Now let's take your brothers and sisters inside and get them changed for a little trip.”
“Loki, what are you doing here?” Tony had asked when he appeared in the control room in Stark tower, with a triple buggy in front of him, and Ástrior and Steven holding onto the side uprights.
“I need a sitter,” Loki said, ignoring the mayhem around him.
“This isn't exactly the time, we're helping coordinate a worldwi-”
“Oh, I know what you're doing,” Loki interrupted. “I also know it's going to fail. So if you would care for our children for a minute or two while I go and sort this out, I would very much appreciate it.”
Loki had teleported himself to the roof of Stark Tower and watched as the vapor trails of dozens of nuclear weapons shot across the clear blue sky, all converging on the asteroid. There was a small flash as the weapons hit, but the asteroids trajectory remained unchanged, and it was still very much on its collision course.
As it entered the atmosphere it stared to blaze, white hot across the sky and Loki paused for a moment to marvel at the beauty of it. It made him laugh as he counted up all the times he attempted to wrought destruction upon Midgard, but he had never once thought of anything as simple as aiming an astrological object at the planet.
He stopped, waiting for the exact right moment, and then raised his hands. He aimed a blast of magic towards the asteroid and watched as it shimmered in the sky, phasing in and out of existence as a swirling, purple portal opened ahead of it. The asteroid plunged into the portal and vanished, then the portal collapsed after it.
Loki smiled. He had done it, he had saved Midgard and Ástrior would have her ballet recital. He wavered back and forth for a second and then collapsed to the floor.
It had taken almost seven months for him to get better. When news reached them, Helblindi had sent blue ice from Jotunheim and Odin had sent finest healers in all the 9 realms. They had tried desperately to rouse him from his hibernating state, imbuing him with their magic to try and replace his own diminished stores, but nothing worked.
He spent the first month sleeping, waking only briefly. When he was finally able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time, Loki had been struck by an absolute crippling wave of depression that had left him withdrawn and sullen for months on end. Tony had been forced to take a break from working with the Avengers, and even Frigga had moved into the house for a time, in order to take care of him.
His recovery had been slow, and it finally seemed to be over, but Tony couldn't help wonder if Loki was still fragile underneath his seemingly happy and argumentative exterior, and thought back to the night when Loki had laid on their bed, saying he wanted to die, and crying endlessly.
“No one loves me,” Loki had repeated over and over again.
“I love you,” Tony said as he gently stroked Loki’s back. “The kids love you. We all love you.”
“It's not enough. It'll never be enough,” Loki said, his breath hitching with small sobs. “I don't have a heart.”
One of the things Tony had learned early about Loki was that he never did any emotion by halves, and if something upset him you could be sure a few city blocks would be reduced to smoldering rubble within half an hour later. If he hated you, he hated you with a fury that was unrivaled and destructive, but if he loved you he did it with an equally overwhelming passion, and sometimes all of them got muddled up together.
It upset Tony when people questioned what he was doing with Loki, because all they saw was the fact that he wasn't given to public displays of anything except annoyance. They didn't see the way he would stretch when he woke up in the morning, open his eyes and smile at him like he was the greatest thing in all the nine realms, or the way he would tuck his head into Tony's neck and tap his finger tips in a gentle rhythm over the Arc reactor in time with his heart beat as he hummed happily.
"Yes you do," Tony had replied, as he lay down next to Loki and pulled him into a tight embrace. "I see it every day."
“What are you guys doing today?” Tony asked, as he finished eating his breakfast.
“I thought perhaps we could take a little outing, since everyone worked so hard yesterday,” Loki said happily, looking up from feeding Edward, who was cheerfully gurgling on his knee. “How does that sound?”
“Oooh!” Steven shouted. “Can we go visit Hela?”
“Hela is busy this week. The dark elves are apparently fighting a new war, so she will probably have lots of new arrivals to settle in,” Loki said. “We can visit Sleipnir and your grandparents at the weekend though.”
“Yay! Asgard!” Steven shouted.
“I think we shall bring your father back some more of Idunn's apples,” Loki said, with a sly grin. “He's staring to look a little wrinkly round the eyes, don't you think?”
“Hey,” Tony protested, as Ástrior and Steven both giggled. “I'm right here you know.”
“Then perhaps you should invest in a better skin care routine,” Loki replied.
“We can't all be as perfectly beautiful as you. Right, I gotta go. You guys be good,” Tony said as he stood up, he bent down a kissed Loki on the forehead, and added, “Especially you. Don't go burning anything down.”
“As if I would,” Loki said in mock horror.
At 4.30 Tony decided to grab a quick coffee before his transcontinental 30 minute commute home, and was rather surprised when a harassed looking SHIELD agent came running towards him.
“Fury wants to see you in his office, right now,” the agent said.
“What's it about?” Tony asked.
“I don't know,” the agent replied, “But he looks pissed.”
“You wanted to see me?” Tony asked, as he walked into Fury's office, and then when he saw the look on his face he wished he'd had the presence of mind to sneak out of the building instead.
“I'm going to show you something now,” Fury said, “And when it is finished you will sort this out. No ifs, no buts. YOU will fix this.”
“What is it?” Tony asked, starting to feel slightly worried.
“Watch the screen,” Fury said and pressed play on the video.
“The strange footage that appeared on Youtube this afternoon, uploaded by Antarctic sea life researcher Doctor Robert Allan, has gained over three million hits in just a few hours. Is it a hoax? We'll leave it for you to judge,” the newscaster said, and then the slightly pixelated film started.
“I've been here for two years now, doing research on the Deep Sea Antarctic octopus and possible uses for its venom, so I thought I'd seen everything down here and boy was I wrong. The first thing I found was these strange ice formations,” the scientist said, turning the camera to display the unusual spikes of ice that had risen from the ground, some large, some small. “They always appeared in the same place, and I'd never seen anything like them, so I set up a camera to try to capture their development. So this morning when I checked the video I couldn't believe my eyes and decided to upload it to Youtube.”
“What you are about to see is shocking footage,” the newscaster said as a fuzzy image appeared on the screen, mostly the blinding white of the snowscape, and then Tony's mouth dropped open as a small blue figure ran into frame.
It leant over, scooping up a handful of snow, formed it into a snowball and threw it. Another blue figure ran into the frame, ducking another snowball and tackled the other figure to the floor, where they rolled around and playfully wrestled.
“Scientists are baffled by the appearance of these creatures,” the newscaster said. “We've invited renowned naturalist Dr David Attenborough to discuss the matter with us and he's on the line now. Dr Attenborough can you give us your opinion on this video?”
“Oh my god,” Tony said as an unmistakable tall, and equally blue, figure walked into the frame.
“Good afternoon, yes, it appears what we are seeing here is a family group. This large one here seems to be holding a small child, possibly even two, and these three smaller figures appear to be young children as well. It's possible we may be witnessing the discovery of a whole new humanoid species that has been living, undiscovered, in Antarctica.”
“Can I ask you about their coloring, Dr Attenborough?”
“Yes, the blue color of their skin could possibly be an adaptation to help them live in such cold conditions and they seem to be very well adapted since they all appear to be dressed in just underwear.”
Fury snapped the TV off and glared at Tony.
“Sort this out, Stark,” he snapped. “I don't care how you do it, just sort it out, and make sure your little Von Trapp clan doesn't cause anymore emergencies in the scientific community.”
“We were on the television?” Loki asked, when Tony arrived home very late after flying to Antarctica and paying a few scientists an awful lot of money to claim they hoaxed the whole thing while drunk, “But I was in a state of undress.”
“You were also blue.”
“Well, how else am I supposed to teach our children that is alright to be themselves, if not by example?” Loki asked. “This is quite mortifying. Did I look fat?”
“No, don't be ridiculous,” Tony said, “And I'm not asking you stop. Just could you maybe NOT do it on Earth?”
“You know it's uncomfortable to be in our Jotun form in a warm place for a long period of time,” Loki replied, wringing his hands together. “The only areas cold enough are Jotunheim and Antarctica, and now it appears I am unwelcome in both.”
“Hey, don't get upset,” Tony said, putting his hands on Loki’s shoulders.
Loki looked down, and quietly said, “Ástrior is starting to ask questions.”
“She asked why I never visit Jotunheim with them.”
“Oh,” Tony replied.
“What am I to tell her? I cannot because I killed their king?”
“Maybe you should tell her the truth?”
“That I murdered her grandfather? You think she will accept that and not judge me a monster?”
“I thought we agreed you weren't going to use the M word anymore,” Tony said as he pulled Loki into a hug.
“I can't help it if it's true,” Loki mumbled into Tony's neck.
Tony held Loki for a moment, gently rocking him, turning from side to side, and then said, “You know what? If you wanna run round Antarctica in your skivvies, you go ahead.”
“Are you sure?” Loki asked, pulling back. “I don't want to get you into trouble.”
“Don't you worry about that,” Tony said, kissing Loki on the forehead and smiling. “I can always bribe more scientists.”
Tony worried slightly about Loki for a few days after that, sometimes sensing the slight anxiety in his smile and the way he would hold his hands together with increasing frequency. Most other people would probably think he was his same old acerbic self, but Tony noticed the little changes. He found it almost painful to watch Loki wake every morning, run his hand down to his stomach and perform some form of magical self pregnancy test, the only indication that it was negative was a slight twitch of dissatisfaction at the corner of his mouth.
He was thinking of ways to cheer Loki up as he flew to New York, blasting along at Mach 8, considering whether going on vacation would be a good idea, when he was knocked out of the sky by a cloaked missile.
“What now?” Loki said, slightly annoyed, as the video screen displayed an incoming call. He pressed the button and Steve's slightly worried looking face filled the screen.
“Loki, we've got a problem,” Steve said. “We need your help.”
“Hardly surprising, you buffoons seem unable to get through anything major without calling upon my services,” Loki replied, holding Virginia in his arms. “Do get on with it Captain, we were about to watch The Muppets till you so rudely interrupted."
“It's Tony, he's missing.”
“I will be right there,” Loki said, terminating the connection.
“Ástrior, Steven,” Loki shouted.
“Is something wrong?” Ástrior asked, when she came in the room, picking up on the tension in his voice.
“No, of course not, darling. Everything is fine,” Loki said, smiling at her. “We just need to run an errand. Would you like to go visit where your father works?”
“You cannot locate him?” Loki asked, after dropping off his children in an office with several nervous looking SHIELD agents. “I thought a red and gold metal suit would not be an easy thing to lose.”
“That's the problem,” Steve said. “We found the suit, but Tony wasn't in it.”
Loki felt like he had been punched in the stomach, he placed a hand on the desk to steady himself as Steve continued talking. Tony was out there somewhere, alone and defenceless.
“Thor's still searching, and Hawkeye too, but we can't understand it, people have been after that suit for years, we don't understand why they left it behind.”
“You appear to be implying that Stark is worth less than the technology only he is able to create to successfully,” Loki said, raising an eyebrow in annoyance.
“Sorry,” Steve said. “Can you find him?”
“Of course I can,” Loki said. “I require an extremely comfortable chair.”
“Does that help you concentrate or cast a spell or something?”
“No,” Loki replied, sarcastically, “I just want somewhere nice to sit while I do your job for you.”
Loki sat in the leather armchair in Fury's private office and closed his eyes. He cast his mind out, sending tendrils of magic ahead of himself, searching everywhere for a hint of the path Tony had taken. It did not take him long to find a disruption in the atmosphere, a trace of exhaust trails and a hint of the new arc reactor element that Tony had eventually named Starkonium.
He followed the trail further, finding the traces of the massive blast that had knocked Tony from the sky and down to the ground. He felt traces of ozone and electricity in the air that told him Thor had been the one to find the suit, and then he saw the blood on the floor.
Loki gasped, opened his eyes, and said, “I know where he is.”
“The location is shielded, my magic will not penetrate inside the structure, but Tony's trail leads right to it,” Loki said, as he showed Steve the location on the map. “I can, however, teleport to outside it. If you can get me inside the building the shielding will be voided.”
“You can teleport us all?” Steve asked and Loki eyed him like he had said the most ridiculous thing in the world.
“You think me too weak to teleport four people?” Loki said. “I once teleported an adult African Elephant to Malibu just to entertain my children, Captain. So unless Thor has gained significant amounts of weight since I saw him last, it will not be a problem.”
“I just wondered if you were OK to do it… After what happened, you know…”
“I can assure you I am quite well,” Loki said. “Where are the others? We need to leave immediately.”
“Thank you, brother,” Loki said to Thor as he smashed the castle door off its hinges, while Steve and Hawkeye took care of the few remaining guards outside. They went inside, Loki leading, and soldiers came running towards them, their guns ready. Thor lifted Mjolnir, preparing for battle, but instead Loki twitched his fingers and vaporised the guns.
“We must move quickly,” he said as he waved a finger in the air and turned the soldiers to stone statues, forever trapped advancing towards their targets.
They walked swiftly down the hallway, dispatching every soldier who came at them with ruthless efficiency, Loki and Thor leading the way, Steve and Hawkeye protecting their rear. They came to the end of the corridor where it intersected another.
“Which way now?” Steve asked as Loki paused and tilted his head.
“Tony is this way,” Loki said, pointing to his right, and then he set off down the left hand corridor.
“I thought Tony was the other way?” Steve said, almost jogging to keep up with Loki’s hurried pace.
“Yes, but his captor is this way and I would have words with him,” Loki replied.
Steve fought cleanly, easily dispatching the soldiers who came at him, and right as a soldier unleashed another blast of his weapon in front of him, he noticed he had edged alongside an open doorway. He heard the whine of the gun on his unprotected side, not six inches from his head, the trigger was already being pulled and there was no way he would be able to avoid the blast without leaving his body vulnerable.
A blue hand grabbed the end of the barrel, encasing the energy pulse as it began to flow out of the weapon in ice; the frost traveled up the gun and froze the soldier instantly.
Steve wheeled round his shield and smashed it into the soldier who was approaching his front, cracking his skull and dropping him to the floor, and then he turned to Loki. He was blue, lines covered his skin, and his eyes burnt red.
“You act like you have never seen a Jotun before,” Loki stated, as he allowed the pink to flush back into his skin. “Clearly you do not watch the news very often.”
“Thank you,” Steve blurted out, not knowing what else to say.
“A debt repaid, Captain,” Loki said, and then he turned away and continued along the corridor.
At the end of the passage stood a large imposing door made of solid oak with ornate brass hinges. Loki motioned to it and said, “Thor, if you will.”
“Gladly,” he replied as he lifted Mjolnir and smashed the doors open with one mighty blow.
“Thank you, brother,” Loki said as he went inside.
Hawkeye, Thor and Steve spread out around the large gloomy room, and checked for soldiers. Ornate tapestries hung from the wall and a fire was lit in the grate, but the room appeared to be empty.
“Are you sure this is the right room?” Clint asked.
“Quite sure,” Loki replied. “You might as well show yourself. I know you are here.”
A familiar red face appeared from the corner of the room, his new leather boots squeaking as he emerged.
“Schmidt,” Steve said. “I thought you were dead.”
“On the contrary, Captain. I am not only alive and well, but I have new allies.”
“The dark elves. This is their new war that I heard rumor of,” Loki replied. “That's how you were able to block my magic from penetrating the building and how you were able to build a weapon that could knock Stark from the sky.”
“And you must be the infamous Loki,” Schmidt said. “The once great trickster god, neutered and acting like a common housemaid to his former enemy. The dark elves took great delight in telling me all about your downfall.”
“I advise you to cease attempting to enrage me further, Schmidt,” Loki snapped. “To quote a friend of mine, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.”
“It was a great shame that you disrupted my Asteroids trajectory,” Schmidt said. “It is so much easier to take over a world that is already reeling from destruction. This would all be over and I wouldn't have needed your precious Stark.”
“Why did you take Stark?” Thor asked, and earned himself a glare from his brother.
“I wanted iron soldiers,” Schmidt said. “Why bother taking one when I can take the man who can create me an army of them.”
“Tony would never build anything for you,” Steve said. “He'd die before he built a weapon for a terrorist.”
“Yes, it has required some... persuasion.”
“Have you hurt him?” Steve asked.
“Just a small amount,” Schmidt said. “It would not be wise to damage my greatest prize.”
“There is just one small problem with that,” Loki said.
“And what is that?”
“He's not yours. He's MINE,” Loki snarled and launched himself at Schmidt.
He didn't even bother using his magic, in his rage fueled frenzy Loki was content to wrestle the man to the floor, one leg either side of his chest pinning him down, and pound on his ridiculous red face until it was seeping blood across the beautiful tiled floor.
Loki clasped his hands together and raised them above his head, they turned blue as they moved upwards and a giant spike of ice grew from them like a stalactite. Loki slammed it down, ramming it through Schmidt's chest, piercing his heart and he ground it round until he was sure the Red Skull was dead.
“You killed him,” Steve said.
“You're welcome,” Loki replied, tersely as he stood up, wiped the blood from his hands on the edge of Schmidt's jacket and stalked out of the room.
They fought their way through the building, taking out HYDRA guards efficiently, working as a team, until they found a group of 20 soldiers protecting a heavily fortified room.
“Is Tony in here?” Steve asked, as he deflected another gun blast.
“No, this room contains the device they have been using to travel Svartalfheim,” Loki replied. “Tony is 200 meters away and he is unguarded.”
“Go get him,” Steve said.
“We can handle these clowns. Go get him.”
Loki walked down the empty corridor, listening to the echo of his own footfalls and the occasional sound of thunder in the distance, behind him. He came to a large wooden door and placed his hand upon it. He could feel the pleasing pulse of the Arc reactor, its energy signature dancing on his fingertips, and he knew Tony was inside.
For a second he hesitated, scared to enter, worried about what he might find within, but Tony was in there and he needed help so he pushed the door until the wood split, the crunch as it splintered under his shaking hands was satisfying, and he went inside the room.
Tony was laid on a small metal bed, his face was bruised and there was blood on the white pillow under his head from his split lip.
Loki crossed the room quickly, took hold of Tony's limp hand and gently moved his other hand across his face, healing the injuries. He ran his hand down over his body, searching for damage with his magic and was pleased when he found there was no internal bleeding. He healed a couple of cracked ribs, and wiped away the bruises from his skin. Tony's eyelids began to flicker open, slowly at first, but then he focused on Loki’s face and smiled.
“Loki,” Tony said, weakly, “You came for me.”
“Of course I did,” Loki replied, his voice breaking as he struggled to maintain his composure. He smiled gently as he held his wavering hand to Tony's cheek and said. “Thor is babysitting tonight and you haven't impregnated me yet.”